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The American Cancer Society Youth Initiative Cancer Prevention and Youth For the first time in recorded history, children are less healthy than their parents were at the same age. According to the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, youth tobacco rates are at an all time high among high school students (28.5%), only 21.4% of youth report eating five servings of fruit and vegetables daily, and only 32.2% of these youth report participation in daily physical exercise. It is now a widely accepted notion that much of the risks of cancer can be reduced through healthy behaviors and that cancer is mostly a preventable disease. In fact, research shows that nearly two-thirds of all cancers may be prevented by reducing tobacco use, increasing physical activity and changing nutrition behaviors. It is the belief of many experts that these health behaviors are ultimately learned as children and youth. The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. To achieve the goal of reducing cancer incidence and mortality, we must commit ourselves to a strategic and integrated approach to cancer prevention and influence the healthy choices that youth make while they are open to learning and change. Youth Programs at the American Cancer Society The Northwest Division of the American Cancer Society, serving Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Alaska, began to formalize its cancer prevention youth activities in 1998 through a program titled Speak Out! These programs and activities began with a primary focus on preventing and reducing tobacco use among youth and served overall approximately 450 youth and 110 adult mentors annually, the majority (85%) from Washington State. Speak Out! activities continue today and include Speak Out! Summer Summit, a week-long youth leadership and advocacy training program for high school aged youth. Youth are trained in team-building, leadership skills, planning skills and advocacy techniques to learn how to mobilize peers and communities to prevent tobacco use. In addition to Summer Summit, youth programs originally designed included 6 workshops spread out over four days. These annual workshops continue today and provide education, information and the tools to assist youth and adult leaders in their efforts to build effective youth coalitions and community partnerships to support tobacco prevention and advocacy efforts. This year (2003) we plan to add advanced-track programs and offer a total of 12 workshops.

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